Update on Children's Issues

Congressman Markey Asks FCC to Examine Food Ads During Children's Programming

Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) has sent a letter to Federal Trade Commission Chairman Kevin Martin and Commissioners Michael Copps and Deborah Taylor Tate asking them to consider whether changes need to be made to lower the commercial time limits in children's programming in order to limit the amount of food ads for "unhealthy" foods that are aired.  Also, he has asked that the Commission determine whether stations, by airing food ads during required educational programming, are undermining the value of such programs.

Congressman Markey is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Telecommunication and the Internet of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  His letter cites statistics from various Kaiser Family Foundation reports regarding food advertising to children, and claims that "no one can plausibly argue that there is no link between television advertising and childhood obesity."  He also argues that while the industry's voluntary steps "should be commended," placing public service ads amid an "avalanche of television advertising for unhealthy foods" is not enough. Thus, he urges the Commission to use its power under the Children's Television Act to reduce commercial time and consider disqualifying programs as educational if they contain food ads. 

He has asked for a response from the Commission by May 4, 2007.  We will file with the FCC in response to Chairman Markey's letter and would appreciate any input you may have. 

Taskforce on Media and Childhood Obesity Meets at FCC

Also, the Joint Task Force on Media and Childhood Obesity held its second formal meeting on April 13th at the FCC.

As the coordinator of the advertising industry subgroup, we presented a report on the steps already being taken by our industry to address childhood obesity, along with some recommendations on future efforts for the Task Force.  As you can see, marketers across all product and service categories are working to address this serious challenge. 

The next meeting of the Joint Task Force is May 11th at the Washington, DC office of the Kaiser Family Foundation.  The goal of the Task Force is to develop a set of best practices and recommendations for new collaborative initiatives that can be released in July.  If you have specific examples of what your company is doing in this area, we would very much like to hear about them so that they could be included. 

Finally, if you have any questions about either Chairman Markey's letter or the FCC Task Force, please contact Dan Jaffe (djaffe@ana.net) or Keith Scarborough (kscarborough@ana.net) in ANA's Washington, DC office at (202) 296-1883.